For centuries, there have been many great artists. Throughout history, the field of art has been influential for many countries. Art has been a form of expression of the artists’ visual emotions and feelings. Some forms of art directly illustrate what the artist wished to convey while other works of art are abstract and quite difficult to understand or even appreciate. However, it cannot be denied that all forms of art have provided contributions to society.
Great artists remain famous today even if having lived years or centuries ago. Their works of art are preserved in private collections, art galleries and in the great museums all over the world. These well-known painters and artists are still an inspiration of the artists of today. Many of the aspiring artists of today dream to follow in the footsteps of their favorite artists such as Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Monet and Klimt.
Many artists were known for their own unique works of art. One such famous artist in the 19th century was Gustav Klimt. He was born in July 14, 1862 in Austria. Gustav Klimt became one of the most famous Symbolist painters of all time. He founded the school of painting known as the Vienna Secession and became a very prominent member of this movement. Vienna Secession exemplifies the erotic and psychological works that made Vienna one of the intellectual centers of Europe. Even though his major works of art were oil paintings, murals and sketches, he was also known for his innumerable drawings in pencil with the female body as his main subject.
Gustav Klimt's life and works
Gustav Klimt was the second born among seven children. There were three boys among them and all exhibited artistic abilities. His father was a gold engraver who married Anna Klimt. Anna, the mother of Gustav, dreamed of becoming a musical performer. The childhood days of Gustav were difficult because of limited amount of employment. As a child, he and his family lived in poverty.
Gustav Klimt studied at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts from 1876 to 1883. He was able to do so because he was awarded a scholarship. There, he received training as an architectural painter. Hans Makart, a famous history painter of that time, was Gustav’s inspiration. Ernst, Gustav Klimt’s brother, also enrolled in the same school in 1877. They were now together at the same school and decided to work along with their friend Franz Matsch. They became a team and called themselves a Company of Artists. Their team received several commissions by 1880, after which they started painting murals with their teacher at a museum in Vienna. Klimt then decided to begin his professional career. He started as a painter of interior murals and ceilings within large buildings. One of his successful works at this time was the series of Allegories and Emblems.
By the year 1888 Gustav Klimt became an honorary member in University of Vienna and the University of Munich. Additionally, he was given the Golden Order of Merit from the Emperor of Austria for his great contributions to the murals painted in the Burg theatre in Vienna.
His father and brother, Ernst, died in 1892 and the responsibility of supporting their families was left to him. Sadly, his career in the field of art was affected with these tragedies.
In 1897, Gustav Klimt was one of the founding members of Vienna Secession and became the president of this movement. He also became a member of a group called Scared Spring. Providing unconventional exhibitions for young artists and bringing the works of foreign artists to Vienna were some of the major goals of Vienna Secession. Also, they focused on exposing the works of the members within their own group. The beauty of this group was that they had no manifesto and allowed coexisting styles such as Naturalism, Realism and Symbolism within the group. The government of Vienna supported them and provided public land so that an exhibition hall could be constructed for their masterpieces. Gustav Klimt painted his version of the group’s symbol which was Pallas Athena in 1898. Pallas Athena was the Greek goddess of just causes, wisdom and of the arts.
Gustav Klimt was given the task of embellishing the ceilings of the Great Hall in the University of Vienna with three different paintings, in 1894. However, his paintings which were Philosophy, Jurisprudence and Medicine were critiqued by the people for its themes and materials. People viewed them as pornographic. Klimt wanted to change symbolism and allegory into a new style that was more sexual and as many said, disturbing. As a result of the criticism, the University decided not to display the works in the Great Hall. After this event, Klimt did not accept any additional public commissions. In 1899, he painted another work which was called the Nuda Verita. The subject of the paintings was a nude red-haired woman holding the mirror of truth. Above the woman was a quotation by Schiller saying that you can please only a few with your deeds and art… to please many is bad.
Later life and his death
In 1911, during the world exhibitions, Klimt’s painting Death and Life won first prize. Three years after the death of Klimt's mother, he suffered from stroke and pneumonia. This was due to an epidemic of influenza. He died in Vienna on February 6, 1918. Klimt was buried at Hietzing. Due to his sudden death, many of Klimt’s paintings went unfinished.
Gustav Klimt is remembered for his transformation of traditional allegories into more sexual terms using the female body as the subject.